Transforming Education: International Youth Day 2019

Ahead of the International Youth Day (August 12), UN DESA, in collaboration with UNESCO, will be calling for a “transformation of our education systems” to make them more inclusive, equitable and relevant for the 21st-century realities.

It should lead to effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula and pedagogy being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work and life but also for the opportunities and challenges that rapidly changing social contexts bring, UN mentioned in a statement.

Meanwhile, “Today, we celebrate the young people, youth-led organizations, Governments and others who are working to transform education and uplift young people everywhere”. – UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Historically, The day was first designated by the United Nation General Assembly in 1999, and serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.

Read Also, International Youth Day 2018

Transforming education: 2019 Theme

According to a UN official release, This year’s International Youth Day theme highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

It will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education so that it becomes a powerful tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Significantly, The ‘Sustainable Development’ Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. It will address the global challenges that we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The Goals interconnect and in order to leave no one behind, it is important that we achieve each Goal and target by 2030.

Following the 2019 theme, Inclusive and accessible education is crucial to achieving sustainable development and can play a role in the prevention of conflict. As far as education concerns, it is a ‘development multiplier’ as it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or peaceful societies, The UN attributed in a statement.

According to this statement, It (Education) should lead to effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula and pedagogy being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work and life, but also for the opportunities and challenges that rapidly changing social contexts bring.

The crucial role that quality education plays in youth development is well recognized. In addition, comprehensive youth development benefits society-at-large. However, what is less known is the fact that young people themselves are active champions of inclusive and accessible education.

Youth-led organizations, as well as individual youth, together with various stakeholders and Governments, are concretely transforming education so that it becomes a fundamental tool both for sustainable development and for the full inclusion of various social groups. For instance, youth-led organizations are transforming education via lobbying and advocacy, partnerships with educational institutions, the development of complementary training programs, etc.

In 2018, The theme on International Youth Day was Safe Spaces for Youth” (Public/Civic/Physical & Digital spaces), where they can come & Unite together, engage & participate in several activities with regard to their diverse needs & interests. As more and more youth grow in a technologically connected world, they aspire to engage deeper in political, civic and social matters, and the availability and accessibility of safe spaces become even more crucial to make this a reality.

While Several Statistics remind us that significant transformations are still required to make education systems more inclusive and accessible:

(1) Only 10% of people have completed upper secondary education in low-income countries;

(2) 40 % of the global population is not taught in a language they speak or fully understand; and

(3) over 75 % of secondary school-age refugees are out of school.

In addition, indigenous youth, young people with disabilities, young women, young people belonging to vulnerable groups or in vulnerable situations, etc. are facing additional challenges to accessing education that respects their diverse needs and abilities as well as reflects and embraces their unique realities and identities, The UN asserted..

Increasing Youth’s Population 

As per the latest UN estimates of the world’s population, In 2019 youth numbered 1.2 billion persons between ages 15 and 24 years, or around one in every six persons worldwide. The number of youth in the world is projected to grow by 7% to 1.3 billion by 2030, the target date for achieving sustainable goals (SDGS).

Around 2065, the world’s youth population is projected to reach its peak, at just under 1.4 billion persons (13%). The share of youth in the total population peaked at 19.3% in 1985. This year, Central and Southern Asia were home to the largest number of youth (361 million), followed by Eastern and South-Eastern Asia (307 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (211 million).

This is the largest youth population ever. Although, more than half of all children and adolescents aged 6-14 lack basic reading and maths skills, despite the fact that the majority of them are attending school. This global learning crisis threatens to severely hamper progress towards the SDGs.

Despite all of this, the temporary increase in the relative size of the working-age population following a sustained decline in the fertility level offers an opportunity for a “demographic dividend”, which may lead to increased investments and an accelerated rate of economic growth per capita. The ability of countries to harness this dividend and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 depends critically on ensuring access to health care and education for all young people, and on providing productive employment and decent work for all, especially youth.

Thus, International Youth Day marked as an occasion to educate the general public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems and to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity. 

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